Bench Seat

These wood working plans include:

The following drawings:

  • Side and End Elevation showing the dimensions.
  • Detail of the attachment of the lid hinge to the side.

The plans have a List of Materials, showing a breakdown of materials needed for the bench seat, as well as a list of the tools needed.

The Instructions include the sizes of pieces to cut; how to layout the parts of the bench seat, installing molding, finishing, staining and finally installing the pulls. An optional wood top is discussed rather than the planned upholstery top and tips given to apply wood edging tape.

Drawing of side and end views of our bench seat.

List of Materials Needed

  • 2 sheets 4x8x3/4" G1S plywood in fir, oak, pine, etc.
  • 1 1/2" finish nails, 26-#6x1 1/4" screws and glue
  • A 6' long piano hinge either 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" wide

Optional Materials

  • Upholstery material, padding, tacks, etc.
  • 1 piece 1x4x8' fir, oak, pine, etc for edging around the top if not upholstered

Tools Needed

  • Table saw
  • Jig saw
  • Hammer
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Nailset


Rip on the table saw your choice of plywood to make pieces for this bench seat, remember the thickness of materials. So let's rip the front and back to overlap the ends. Rip two pieces 17 1/4" x 70 1/2" long and, while the saw is set to 17 1/4", rip enough plywood for two pieces 16 1/2" long. Remember with the 3/4" on each side of these end pieces we will have the overall measurement of 18".

The inside bottom piece can be ripped to 16 1/2" x 69". To support the bottom, rip two pieces 1" wide, enough to go all around, that's about 2-8' strips. Cut to length two of these strips for the front and back supports. Cut them 1 1/2" shorter than the side pieces, which should equal 69". Next, the top of the bench seat can be ripped to 19"x72".

Optional: If you decide not to upholster, then the edges of the top must be hidden. So rip the top 1 1/2" less on both the width and length to allow for edging strips ripped from the 1x4. These strips are 1 1/2" wide and are glued and nailed to the top edges. Miter the strips at the ends to form corners around the top plywood. You can round over the edge with a router if desired, so watch the location of your nails and keep them low.

Before assembling the bench seat, let's form the legs on the sides and ends. Layout the bottom of the sides and ends to match the layout on the drawing. For a 3" radius, either use a compass left over from geometry class or do what I do, make use of a mug, coffee can, peanut butter jar to trace around for a nice even arc. You can also be creative and make a paper pattern with an ogee or bracket shape and trace around it for the shape to form the legs. Be careful not to go more than 3" up from the bottom or you may get into the strips to support the bottom. Cut out the arc or shapes with the jig saw.

Another thing we should do before assembly is to nail or screw our 1" strips to the inside of the front and back pieces. Get the exact positions of these two pieces by measuring up from the bottom 4 1/4" to the top of the strip. Glue these strips and screw them on to the front and back sides by screwing through the strips into the sides with 7-1 1/4" drywall or similar screws. Don't worry about the end strip yet.

Now let's assemble our bench seat box. Apply glue to the edges of the end pieces and, keeping the bottom and tops flush, nail the sides to them. Nail right through the face of the front and back pieces and then set each nail with a nail set. For those new to woodworking: to properly set a nail, first hammer in the nail but leave it a bit proud (sticking out about 1/8") so the hammer doesn't mark the wood. Then set the nail about 1/8" below the surface of the wood. The cavity in the wood above the nail can later be filled with a wood filler that matches the colour of the wood, thus hiding the nail.

Now measure accurately the length of 1" strips needed to support the bottom on the ends, between the side strips. These should be about 15". Screw them on with three screws each. Now apply glue to the top of the strips all the way around and drop the bottom inside the box. Screw it down into the side strips with three screws on each side. Lay the top down on the top of the box and position it accurately. Cut the piano hinge to length with a hack saw. At the back, under the lid of the bench seat, place the piano hinge and screw it into the back and into the underside of the top. Make sure the hinge pin is in the inside corner, as in the detailed drawing.

You will notice that there is end grain showing from the sides of the box and on the top, yuk! Don't dispair because there is a product on the market that will remedy this situation. Get some edge tape from your local hardware/building supply. It comes in various widths, lengths and colours of wood grain or melamine to match your selected plywood. It is pre-glued with a hot melt glue. Cut the tape to the desired lengths with a little overhang and apply it with heat from an iron. You'll get the hang of it with a little practice. Watch the glue squeeze out. Let it cool for a few seconds, then—with a sharp utility knife, keeping the blade flat against the face of the plywood—trim off the overhang of the tape at the ends and the sides. Go over the edge of the tape with about 120 grit sandpaper and you have a nice edge that makes the plywood look like solid wood.

Now you can stain, finish or paint the wood. Then upholster the top of this fine addition to your foyer. You can proudly tell your brother-in-law that you made this bench seat yourself.


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